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Fri, 17 Sep 2021
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Bizarro Earth

Newly Discovered Snow Roots Are 'Evolutionary Phenomenon'

It may not be the Yeti, but in a remote region of the Russian mountains a previously unknown and entirely unique form of plant root has been discovered. Lead Scientist Professor Hans Cornelissen and his Russian-Dutch team describe this finding today in Ecology Letters.

The root belongs to the small alpine plant Corydalis conorhiza and unlike normal roots, which grow into soil, they extend upward through layers of snow. Given this novel behaviour, the scientists have termed them 'snow roots'.

"This is a completely new discovery," says Cornelissen, an associate professor of ecology at VU University in Amsterdam. "Snow roots are thus far unknown and a spectacular evolutionary phenomenon."

The team made their discovery high up in the Caucasus Mountains, where the ground remains covered in snow for much of the year. As the snow melted at the height of summer the scientists noted that C. conorhiza plants were surrounded by a filigree network of above-ground roots, stretching uphill and to each side for around 50cm. During the spring and perhaps also winter, these roots extend into the surrounding snow and during the summer they die and decompose, which may explain how they had remained undiscovered.

Cloud Lightning

US: Texas storms flood, cancel flights, shut off power

Texas sunset
© AP Photo/Matt Slocum
The sun sets behind a windmill after a severe storm swept through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Wednesday, June 10, 2009, in Richardson, Texas
A series of powerful storms packing heavy rains and frequent lightning strikes grounded dozens of flights, left hundreds of thousands without power and caused widespread damage across portions of Texas on Thursday.

No deaths or injuries were reported from the storms that began whipping the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday night with winds up to 70 mph. By the time the storms cleared the city, some areas of Dallas got more than 8 inches of rain.

More than 180,000 homes and businesses were without power Thursday night, said Megan Wright, a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

Magic Wand

Tiny Digger Turns Deserts into Gardens

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© Andy Zakeli
The endangered bilby helps make the desert bloom.
Australia- Despite its diminutive size, the humble bilby can dig a desert back to life, according to research that reveals the marsupial's vital role in arid environments.

Alex James, a PhD student from the University of NSW, said the bilby's night-time foraging expeditions left the desert surface full of potholes, which made for ideal conditions for nutrient-rich "hot spots" to develop.

Bizarro Earth

Texas Town Hires Geologist After 5 Earthquakes

Cleburne - A fourth earthquake prompted city officials to hire a geologist and then another earthquake happened about an hour before the emergency meeting.

The fifth earthquake took place Tuesday at 6:19 p.m. and the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at a 2.1-magnitude. Cleburne officials called for an 8 p.m. emergency meeting Tuesday after the fourth earthquake, measuring a 2.6, happened that same day at 5:10 p.m.

No damage or injuries have been reported from the tremors.

"I've been here all my life, since 1950. Everybody's worried about it. That's all the talk all over town - earthquakes. You know everybody blames the oil companies, gas companies," said Cleburne resident James Barton. The city's leaders are not ruling gas drilling as a cause.

Evil Rays

We Have Become a Spoiled, Obese, Expectant and Fearful People

Fears_1
© Unknown
I've spent a lot of times in foreign countries. I've seen people in Bosnia eat the bark off of trees and I claim the Appalachian Trail as a previous address.

I may be jaded but I also realize that for thousands of years, people lived without the luxuries that we now consider necessities. In fact, a recent study just found that what we thought were necessities just last year, we think of as luxuries. Things like cell phones, air conditioning.... Not too long ago, electricity and automobiles were luxuries. Maybe as a result, I think that we can all toughen up just a tiny bit.

In 1st world countries, we have become a spoiled, obese, expectant and fearful group of people. We have learned to manipulate nature and our philosophies to our benefit, our comfort and our profit, to the detriment of our planet, our society, our ethics, our health, our children and ourselves:

We live in climate controlled 72 degree homes, offices and cars, 12 months a year.

We demand and get, fat and ripe strawberry's grown in Latin America in the middle of February.

We build our homes further into the woods and mountains and then kill the animals who stray into our yards.

We eat beef that has been doped with antibiotics from birth.

We leave our porch lights on all night, not realizing that 130,00 Americans die every year from fine particulate matter spewing from coal plants.

Bizarro Earth

Typhoons trigger earthquakes on Taiwan

Image
© Unknown
Often considered a curse, typhoons -- for Taiwan -- could in fact could be a blessing.
Surprised scientists say that typhoons which hit Taiwan unleash long, slow earthquakes, a phenomenon that may save the island from devastating temblors.

Seismologists installed movement sensors in boreholes at depths of 200-270 metres (650-870 feet) in eastern Taiwan, monitoring a spot where two mighty plates, the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian plate, bump and jostle in an oblique, dipping fault.

Over five years, researchers saw a remarkable link between tropical storms and "slow" earthquakes, a seismic beast first identified three decades ago.

Slow quakes entail a slippage in the fault that unfolds progressively over hours or days, rather than a sudden, violent release of the kind that destroys buildings and lives.

The sensors noted 20 such slow earthquakes, 11 of which coincided with typhoons, during the study period.

Phoenix

Three eruptions from Colombia's Galeras volcano

Three volcano eruptions in southwest Colombia sent smoke and ash into the sky and prompted Colombian authorities to declare a red alert in the area.

Authorities believe a larger eruption is imminent from the 14,000 foot Galeras volcano.

Alarm Clock

US: Lake Mohave carp deaths caused by virus

Bullhead City, Arizona - Biologists have determined that a carp die-off in Lake Mohave is being caused by a virus.

Several thousand dead carp have washed up on the shore of the reservoir along the Colorado River in recent weeks. Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Zen Mocarski says it appears the Koi herpes virus has now spread downriver and is killing carp in Lake Havasu.

Bizarro Earth

What is the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch?

Image
As authorities continued their search and recovery mission last week following the deadly crash of Air France flight 447, they thought they had finally begun finding pieces of wreckage from the jet. Various objects floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the crash site were examined closely for any evidence of what happened, until investigators suddenly realized what they were looking at. It wasn't part of the plane; it was just plain old ocean trash.

The mistake highlighted a worldwide problem: marine debris, most of it plastic, that begins in human hands but ends up in the ocean, often inside animals' stomachs or around their necks. Reports about these "garbage patches" have been trickling in for years, but they've picked up steam recently. While the Air France mix-up took place in the Atlantic - and these nebulous, tangled trash heaps are showing up all around the globe - the poster child for plastic pollution remains the sprawling Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world's largest dump.

Heart

Male hummingbirds break speed record for love

Talk about showing off for your lady. During courtship flights, male Anna's hummingbirds sustain accelerations that would cause a fighter jet pilot to pass out.